Friday, March 25, 2016
Are you an atheist? Non-believers 'lack empathy' while religious people are less intelligent, claims study
I have done a great deal of survey research (by doorknocking) in which religious belief was asked and the results reported below seemed wrong to me. So in my usual pesky way I looked up the underlying academic journal article ("Why Do You Believe in God? Relationships between Religious Belief, Analytic Thinking, Mentalizing and Moral Concern" by I.A. Jack et al.). I was pretty sure what I would find and I did find it: No attempt at sampling.
The research is just a product of laziness. They used Mechanical Turk to get their test subjects. It's a great way to avoid getting out of your armchair but it gives you no generalizable data. The population accessed via MT is unknown but is probably of above average IQ and more introverted. So the data gained from MT responders enables no generalization to any known population. A representative sample could give quite different results.
There is therefore no reason to conclude that the results below accurately reflect the real world. In my experience with surveys, I have had a strong positive correlation among a non-sample turn into a zero correlation with a representative sample.
I note also that most of the correlations between belief and ability were so low as to be effectively zero for all intents and purposes -- e.g. -0.15 and -0.13. This comports with previous findings of only trivial (and possibly artifactual) ability differences between believers and unbelievers. See here and here
If you don't believe in God or a universal spirit, you're more likely to be callous and manipulative, according to a controversial new study.
Atheists exhibit more traits commonly seen among psychopaths than people who consider themselves to be religious.
However, believers aren't spared criticism - the study also found that religious people are less intelligent than their non-believing counterparts.
Religious people were found to be more caring towards their fellow humans and the researchers believe their findings may help explain why women - who tend to be more empathetic - are also likely to be more religious.
Researchers at Cape Western Reserve University in Ohio and Babson College in Massachusetts, argue that the conflict between science and religion may have its origins in the structure of our brains.
Brain scans, and experiments, demonstrate the brain has two 'networks' that are activated when we think - one analytical and critical, the other social and emotional.
To believe in a supernatural god or universal spirit, people appear to suppress the brain network used for analytical thinking and engage the empathetic network, the scientists said.
In a series of eight experiments, each involving between 159 and 527 adults, the researchers examined the relationship between a belief in God or a spirit, with measures of analytic thinking and moral concern.
In all eight, they consistently found the more religious the person, the more moral concern they showed.
Scientists have yet to discover a 'God gene' but said differences at a genetic level appeared to play a big role.
The results were part of a report called 'The Gender Gap in Religion' from Pew, a respected US-based research institute.
They discovered that both spiritual belief and empathetic concern were positively associated with frequency of prayer, meditations and other spiritual or religious practices.
The main finding offers a new explanation for past research showing women tend to hold more religious or spiritual worldviews than men, so this gap may arise because women tend to be more empathetic than men.
In contrast, the researchers said there are some similarities between atheists and psychopaths in that they both lack empathy for others.
The typical psychopath demonstrates 'an absence of emotional response to pain and suffering in others' the authors said, who also found this to be the case among people in a series of personality tests.
The research is based on the hypothesis that the human brain has two opposing domains in constant tension.
In earlier research, Dr Tony Jack, associate professor of philosophy at Cape Western used functional magnetic resonance imaging to show the brain has an analytical network of neurons that enables us to think critically and a social network that enables us to empathise.
When presented with a physics problem or ethical dilemma, a healthy brain fires up the appropriate network while suppressing the other.
'Because of the tension between networks, pushing aside a naturalistic world view enables you to delve deeper into the social or emotional side,' he explained.
'And that may be the key to why beliefs in the supernatural exist throughout the history of cultures. 'It appeals to an essentially non-material way of understanding the world and our place in it.'
He continued: 'When there's a question of faith, from the analytic point of view, it may seem absurd.
'But, from what we understand about the brain, the leap of faith to belief in the supernatural amounts to pushing aside the critical or analytical way of thinking to help us achieve greater social and emotional insight.'
His colleague Professor Richard Boyatzis added: 'A stream of research in cognitive psychology has shown that people who have faith (who are religious or spiritual) are not as smart as others. 'They actually might claim they are less intelligent.'
'Our studies confirmed that statistical relationship, but at the same time showed that people with faith are more prosocial and empathic.'
The new study is published in the online journal PLOS ONE.
The researchers said that while having empathy does not necessarily mean a person has anti-scientific beliefs, it may 'compromise' an individual's ability to cultivate social and moral insight.
However, they point out research that shows between 1901 and 2000, 90 per cent of Nobel Prize winners in science were religious, while the rest were atheists, agnostics or freethinkers.
Guilt and the Immigrants
Angela Merkel took a shellacking in German regional elections a week ago, but she's not about to get tougher on immigration, which is what provoked her bad results. She's sticking with her open-door policy, even though it isn't working very well. It is a typical feel-good policy that ignores reality: Merkel, and lots of other German leaders, want to prove that they are fine humanitarians, not the descendants of the Fuhrer. And so they "welcome" hundreds of thousands of refugees and are trying to turn them into good Europeans.
Alas, most of the refugees-including the many who would really love to assimilate-can't do that. Not primarily because they are culturally alien, but because they lack the wherewithal to work in modern Germany. They don't speak or write the language; they don't have the technical skills, like mathematics, necessary to get a job; and they don't know how to live in a Western city. So, while the Germans give them apprenticeships to learn work skills, the immigrants drop out to the tune of about fifty percent. The dropouts collect unemployment. Bottom lines: the taxpayers are paying for unqualified refugees, don't like it, and send that message to the chancellor.
I'm old enough to remember the Los Angeles riots of 1992, when street gangs destroyed entire neighborhoods downtown. President George H.W. Bush went out to California to get advice from the locals, and one of the hot ideas of the moment was to empower the gangs, let them run businesses, and put their energy to work for the community. It sounded great, but only briefly. If memory serves me right (always a bit chancy), it was Peter Ueberroth who said "they can't read or write, how in the world can they run a business?" So they went back to fighting, in which the thugs had advanced degrees.
Assimilation is hard and slow and expensive; you can't just wave a wand and transform third-world illiterates into productive Western citizens. Maybe in a generation or two it can be accomplished. My grandparents continued to speak Russian and Yiddish, their children mastered English, and some of them even went to college, but it wasn't until my generation came along, born 40 years after the immigrants cleared Ellis Island, that you had kids who were totally immersed in American culture. And we're the best at it. Germany's numbers are off-puting. In about five years, ethnic Germans will constitute less than half the population (lots of Turks).
Merkel's policy, then, can be expected to fundamentally transform the makeup of her country, and it goes hand in hand with the original motivation for the creation of the eurozone (and hence the EU itself) in the first place. Helmut Kohl, the architect of the euro, accepted the negative stereotype of his people; he believed that, left to their own devices, the Germans would kill again. His great mission was the elimination of Germany from the map, the dissolution of Germany as an identifiable nation or people. The euro was, so to speak, the acid in which Germany-as symbolized by the deutsche mark-was to vanish, becoming just one piece of the new Europe.
Merkel shares this vision. She and her followers are tortured by recent German history. They do not want to lead Europe, let alone play a primary role in the Western alliance. She fears her own impulses, and those she ascribes to her people. The immigration policy is a piece of that self-hating vision.
I think this helps understand why Obama gets along better with Merkel than with most other traditional European allies. They share a very negative view of their national histories, they don't think their nations are worthy of leading world events, they both have romantic notions about the peoples of failed countries (most certainly including the Middle East), and they prefer to play a secondary role in world affairs (aka "leading from behind).
That is why both have adopted immigration policies that may well fundamentally transform their countries in the immediate future. German and American taxpayers don't like giving money to people who can't make it on their own. The sympathetic intellectuals brand the critics "racists" or "chauvinists" or even "fascists," but actually Merkel and Obama are provoking the citizens' anger, by insisting on policies that fly in the face of reality.
Both are likely to provoke national decisions very much at odds with their own confused visions.
Australia: Campbelltown Council votes against permanently flying the Aboriginal flag
CAMPBELLTOWN councillors have rejected a push to permanently fly the Aboriginal flag outside the council chambers, saying it would increase cultural divide rather than promote unity.
At a meeting last week, councillors narrowly voted against a request from its Reconciliation Advisory Committee to spend $2000 on a new flag pole so the Aboriginal flag could fly alongside the Australian flag.
Cr Max Amber told the meeting that permanently flying the Aboriginal flag would do more harm than good.
“I feel very strongly that the Australian flag, we fought two world wars under and numerous others, is the flag for all Australians,” Cr Amber said.
Cr Neville Grigg — with councillors Amber, James Nenke, John Kennedy and Dom Barbaro — was against flying the flag.
“This is separating the Australian into two separate peoples. “We are one Australia, we have one flag, and that’s the way it should stay.”
But Cr Marijka Ryan said flying the Aboriginal flag would help indigenous people, especially members of the Stolen Generation, heal and feel more accepted within the community.
“It would promote everything we value as a society, compassion, tolerance, acknowledgment of our history and respect from what is right,” Cr Ryan said.
“Flying the Aboriginal flag is not divisive, it’s not meant to offend, it’s meant for the good of those who were displaced in their own land and it’s a symbolic gesture.”
Aboriginal Elder Lowitja O’Donoghue was “gobsmacked and surprised” by the decision.
“I didn’t think it was a question anymore, anywhere, because the flag does fly everyday in most council areas.”
Campbelltown’s Reconciliation Advisory Committee was set up in 2005 to help develop projects and raise awareness of the significant Kaurna heritage in the area.
Mayor Simon Brewer and councillors Ryan and Jill Whittaker are on the committee, together with five independent members — three of them Aboriginal.
Mr Brewer condemned the council’s choice on his Facebook page and said he would now wear Aboriginal-inspired ties in place of official council ties at functions.
“In my view, in this more enlightened world, it is not flying the flag and recognising the special and unique place of Aboriginal people in Australia that is divisive,” Mr Brewer wrote.
“Until (the) council moves into the 21st century on this matter, the council tie is retired from this neck.”
The council will continue to fly the Aboriginal flag during NAIDOC Week.
It already flies the Australian flag, the State flag and the Campbelltown flag.
France’s Relentless Hostility to the Jewish State
France today is one of the main enemies of Israel -- maybe its main enemy -- in the Western world. France's disregard of the threats faced by Israel is more than simple willful blindness. It is complicity.
At a time when Mahmoud Abbas constantly encourages terror and hatred against Israel, and when murders of Israeli Jews by Palestinian Arabs occur on a daily basis, France's anti-Israel relentlessness can only be seen as the latest extension of France's centuries-old anti-Semitism.
France's "Arab policy" has gone hand-in-hand with a massive wave of Muslim immigration. France has quickly become the main Muslim country in Europe. More than six million Muslims live in France, and make up approximately 10% of the population. The Muslim vote is now an important factor in French politicians' decisions; the risk of Muslim riots is taken into account.
On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27, Hassan Rouhani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran -- a regime that denies the fact that the Holocaust occurred and does not hide its intention to commit another holocaust -- arrived in Paris for an official visit.
Two days earlier, Rouhani had been in Rome, where the Italian authorities, in a gesture of submission, covered up the nude statues of Rome's Capitoline Museum.
Rouhani thanked Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi for his "hospitality". He did not thank President François Hollande for having hosted him on January 27.
No French journalist or politician mentioned International Holocaust Remembrance Day. French journalists spoke only of Hassan Rouhani's "moderation" and "openness," despite Iran's dire human rights violations. Hollande evoked the rebirth of a "fruitful relationship" between Iran and France.
No French journalist or politician mentioned the Holocaust denial or the genocidal intentions of the Iranian regime; that Iran's leaders regularly chant "Death to Israel" and "Death to America"; the malignant contents of Palestine, a book recently published by Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, or the dangers still inherent in Iran's nuclear program.
Every newspaper article and politician's speech in France was about the contracts French companies could sign with Iran and the return of Iran to a harmonious "concert of nations."
Iran was presented on every side as a "reliable ally" of the West in the fight against the Islamic State.
France's willful blindness concerning the very real threats Israel faces is characteristic of general attitude of France toward Israel for the last fifty years.
In the second half of the 1960s, after the end of the Algerian war, France adopted an "Arab policy." It consisted of the creation of close ties with Arab dictatorships and, more broadly, with the authoritarian regimes of the Muslim world. The aim of the "Arab Policy" was to enable France to retain influence, whatever the price, even if it had damaging effects on the rest of the Western world.
It also consisted of severing strategic and military links between France and Israel.
France provided financial and economic help to the newborn Algerian regime. It abandoned Harkis (Algerian Arabs who sided with France) in exchange for the use of a naval base at Mers el-Kebir and the possibility of conducting nuclear tests in the Sahara Desert.
Historians have not reached a consensus about the estimated number of Harkis murdered. Harkis associations placed the number of killed at approximately 100,000-150,000.
France maintained close ties with Tunisia and Morocco, established close relations with the Arab League and offered itself as a voice to the Arab world in international affairs.
In 1975, France became the main Western ally of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, and provided two nuclear reactors, Tammuz I and II, to Iraq. They were described by Saddam Hussein as the first steps towards an "Arab atomic bomb." France also endorsed a contract between the Institut Mérieux, based in Paris, and the Directorate of Veterinary Services of the Baghdad regime, which led to the creation of a "biological research laboratory." It was the first organization to develop biological weapons in Iraq.
Despite UN sanctions, France illegally transferred weapons to Saddam Hussein's regime until December 2002.
Military cooperation between France and Saddam Hussein lasted until the second Gulf War. Shortly before the U.S. invaded in March 2003, the Iraqi newspaper Babel called France's President Jacques Chirac "the Great Fighter" (Al Mujahid al-Akbar).
From the start of the war, France was the main Western country opposing military operations and regime change in Iraq.
In 1978-1979, France played an important role in the overthrow of the Shah of Iran and helped facilitate the birth of the Islamic Republic of Iran. French authorities accommodated Khomeini when he was expelled from Iraq in 1978, and allowed him to send to Iran tapes calling for revolution and jihad against Israel. Khomeini returned to Tehran aboard an Air France plane chartered by the French government. Cooperation between France and the Islamic Republic of Iran lasted until Saddam Hussein attacked Iran in September 1980.
To please its new Arab friends, France decided to impose an arms embargo on Israel in June 1967, at the beginning of the Six Day War, at the moment when Israel faced mortal danger. The embargo later became permanent.
In 1973, during the Yom Kippur War, France refused landing rights to U.S. military supply planes flying to Israel.
In the early 1970s, France developed close ties with the PLO and became an ardent supporter of the "Palestinian cause." France used its influence, just two years after the massacre of Israeli athletes in Munich, to have Yasser Arafat invited to speak before the United Nations General Assembly in November 1974. President François Mitterrand, in 1988, received Yasser Arafat on an official visit to Paris, and granted him all the honors reserved for a head of state. In 1979, France voiced its disagreement with the Camp David Accords because the PLO had not been involved in the talks. In 1982, France saved Arafat, who was besieged by the Israeli army in Beirut, and allowed him to seek asylum in Tunisia, a client state of France, to continue his incendiary activities.
France continued to support Arafat until his last moments, and treated him in a French military hospital. When Arafat died, President Jacques Chirac held an official ceremony for him before sending the coffin to the Middle East in an official aircraft of the French Republic. French diplomatic circles never condemned terrorist attacks against Israel, but always condemned Israeli responses as "disproportionate." French diplomatic circles never ceased to support the creation of a Palestinian state, in the "1967 borders" (in reality, 1949 armistice lines).
Hamas, designated a terrorist organization, by the United States, was defined several times by French ministers as a "possible interlocutor." A French Cultural Institute exists in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. France intends to create a National Museum of Palestine in Ramallah, and French officials declared that the museum will open when a "free and sovereign Palestine" will be born. For now, the museum is housed in the Arab World Institute in Paris, the largest Arab and Muslim cultural center in a Western country.
Since the end of 2010, France has also contributed to the Islamist wave sweeping the Middle East, and played a major role in the toppling of the Gaddafi regime in Libya.
France had good relations with the Gaddafi regime when Muammar Gaddafi behaved as an enemy of the West. In April 1986, when an anti-American attack occurred in a discotheque in Berlin, the US decided to strike Libya. France refused overflight rights to the US military and pushed Spain and Portugal to make the same decision. Between 1992 and 2003, when the Gaddafi regime was subject to an embargo, France delivered weapons to Gaddafi and became its second arms supplier after Russia. In December 2007, Gaddafi was invited to France for an official visit: he signed contracts with Airbus Industries and Areva Nuclear Power. In 2011, the Emir of Qatar pushed President Nicolas Sarkozy to support an Islamic rebellion in Benghazi, and France also encouraged the United Kingdom, the United States and other NATO members to overthrow Gaddafi: the result was the takeover of the country by jihadists, who then plundered the military arsenals. Five years after that, Libyan territory is now a base for several jihadist groups, with the Islamic State holding a large part of Libyan coast, two hundred miles from Europe.
Qatar, which funds Islamic terrorist groups, has long funded the Islamic State. Qatar has become a close friend of many French politicians; the French government has offered tax exemptions for Qatari investors who bought and are still buying assets and influence.
France's "Arab policy" has gone hand-in-hand with a massive wave of Muslim immigration. France has quickly become the main Muslim country in Europe. More than six million Muslims live in France, and make up approximately 10% of the population.
France's "Arab policy" has also gone hand-in-hand with the establishment, in France, of multiple Islamic organizations. The main one is the French branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, known as the UOIF (Union of Islamic Organizations of France). The two primary training centers for imams in France -- in Château Chinon and Saint Denis -- belong to the UOIF, and are funded by the French government. The curriculum is defined by the UOIF. Many imams trained in these centers act and preach in French prisons and in the ever-growing 751 "no-go zones," ("zones urbaines sensibles" / "sensitive urban areas") over which the French government has lost control. Each mosque in France is free to choose its imam.
The Muslim vote is now an important factor in French politicians' decisions; the risk of Muslim riots is taken into account. The last prospect is certainly not lost on many Muslims who doubtless conclude that if threatening to riot works, keep on doing it.
French President Georges Pompidou and his Foreign Minister, Michel Jobert, were the main artisans of the "Euro-Arab dialogue" that took shape after the Yom Kippur War, in 1973. In a declaration to the press, Jobert clearly justified the Syrian-Egyptian attack against Israel, and said that the aggressors had wanted to "set foot" in their "own land again." Dialogue began with the Arab League. It continued with the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC ; now renamed the Organization of Islamic Cooperation) -- and never stopped. In June 2013, the OIC inaugurated a Permanent Mission Office to the EU in Brussels to "increase cooperation" with the EU.
The bitter result of decades of appeasement and opportunism could be described as fear. France's questionable links with questionable regimes, organizations and causes, its acceptance of a largely unchecked Muslim immigration, its growing inability to enforce its own laws on swathes of its territory, have made it a warm, comfortable breeding ground for extremist Islam. The risk of further attacks is very real. France is intervening militarily in Syria most likely because many young French Muslims joined the Islamic state and chose jihad. Some of these French citizens came back to kill on French soil. France cannot destroy the Islamic State. France cannot prevent its own Islamization. France cannot prevent, in the chaos of Libya, the further growth of the Islamic State. France's disregard of the threats faced by Israel is more than simple willful blindness. It is complicity.
For five decades, France was a partner in the crimes of some of the worst enemies of Israel. France today is one of the main enemies of Israel -- maybe its main enemy -- in the Western world. The day after the visit of Hassan Rouhani in Paris, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (who has since resigned) announced that France wanted to organize a major international conference to relaunch the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, based on an old Saudi peace plan, which includes -- as a poison pill -- the "right of return."
Fabius added that if the French initiative failed, France would nevertheless recognize the Palestinian state. He probably knows that the conference will almost certainly not take place, and that even if it did, why should the Palestinians negotiate if a Palestinian State has already been promised to them? Presumably he just wanted to announce France's upcoming official recognition of a Palestinian state.
On December 30, 2014, the French government backed a UN resolution demanding the "end of Israeli occupation" and the creation of a Palestinian state before December 2017. The resolution, however, did not receive enough votes in the UN Security Council. A US veto was not even necessary. France was not successful, but did not give up.
French and Palestinian lawmakers are working on another resolution that will be presented next fall. The resolution will be almost the same as the previous one. If it gets enough votes in the Security Council (nine out of fifteen), only a US veto could prevent it from being adopted. If the U.S. does not use its veto, Israel could be defined as a UN member state occupying another member state -- despite obvious threats to its security on every front.
At a time when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas constantly encourages terror and hatred against Israel, and when murders of Israeli Jews by Palestinian Arabs occur on a daily basis, France's anti-Israel relentlessness can only be seen as the latest extension of France's centuries-old anti-Semitism.
Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Hitler's henchman during World War II, was detained by French soldiers in May 1945. He enjoyed the hospitality of the French government, and was able to leave France for Egypt in 1946. On August 12, 1947, he wrote to the French foreign minister, Georges Bidault, to thank France for its help.
Charles de Gaulle, a few months after deciding to impose an arms embargo on Israel in June 1967, and with ironically little self-awareness, publicly described Jews as an "elite people, sure of themselves and domineering."
In 1967, then French President Charles de Gaulle (left), a few months after imposing an arms embargo on Israel, and with ironically little self-awareness, publicly described Jews as an "elite people, sure of themselves and domineering." At right, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif hugs then Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius at the close of nuclear talks in Geneva, Nov. 23, 2014.
Maurice Couve de Murville, head of French diplomacy from 1958-1968, was a financial expert who had been responsible for "the reduction of Jewish influence in the French economy," under the Vichy regime led by Marshal Petain from September 1940 to March 1943.
François Mitterrand, President of France from 1981 to 1995, worked for the Vichy regime, from January 1942 to mid-1943. He was so dedicated to his work that he received the Francisque (the highest award granted by the regime) from the hands of Petain in April 1943. Mitterand remained a friend of René Bousquet, ex-secretary general to the Vichy regime police, until the day Bousquet was assassinated in 1993. Bousquet was one of the main organizers of the mass arrest of Jews in France (known as the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup).
In February 2015, after Prime Minister Manuel Valls uttered positive words about Israel, Roland Dumas, French Foreign Minister from 1984 to 1986 and from 1988 to 1993, accused Valls of being under "Jewish influence".
In his 2006 book Betrayal: France, the Arabs, and the Jews, David Pryce-Jones explains in detail how France had obsessively dreamed of being a Muslim power for more than a century, and that French diplomacy has been imbued with a persistent anti-Semitism and hostility toward the Jewish state.
France did not become a Muslim power, but anti-Semitism still permeates diplomacy in France. French hostility toward the Jewish state is more present and malignant than ever.
Just this month, on February 3, a group of French ambassadors published a manifesto to "save the Palestinian State." In the text, they justify the "knife intifada" in Israel, and denounce "fifty years of military and police occupation by Israel," Jewish "colonization" of Palestinian territories, the "shadow of the Holocaust" that "inhibits" Europe, and the supposedly "apartheid policy of Israel," even though it is hard to see how a country that gives the Arab population under its control full freedom and rights, including political parties and seats on Israel's Supreme Court, can be called "apartheid." The French ministers also asked the Europe Union, at the behest of the Palestinian Authority, to stop any scientific and economic cooperation with Israel until the recognition of a Palestinian state. The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs even described the text of manifesto as a "useful" contribution to the debate.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.